More consumers complain of watery fuel, poor oversight

Watch Above: Customers who bought fuel at Neon’s gas station in Leslieville say the government isn’t doing enough to protect them. As Sean O’Shea’s investigation continues, it seems no government agency is taking responsibility for quality checks on gasoline.

Consumers say regulators have to step up their investigations after more complaints that a Toronto gas station sold water-laden fuel.

“We’re not being protected properly,” said Ben Ferguson, a Leslieville real estate representative who filled up his vehicle at Neon Gas, located as 1200 Queen Street East three years ago.

Ferguson says Acura mechanics told him his vehicle was damaged as a result of water in fuel.

Last year, lighting business owner Virginie Jaran filled up her Mazda Miata at the station. Minutes later, the car stalled. She says mechanics told her there was water in the tank, requiring $600 in repairs.

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In March and April of this year, at least half a dozen consumers told Global News their vehicles suffered damages believed to be related to water in fuel at Neon. The company has denied there is anything wrong with the fuel. The Technical Standards and Safety Authority (TSSA) says it sent an inspector to the site several times in April. The TSSA says a moisture test of the premium fuel tank showed no evidence of water. The TSSA has refused a Global News request for an on-camera interview.

The TSSA says it does not regulate fuel quality, Environment Canada does. The federal agency did not follow through on questions raised by Global News about how a consumer could be assured about the integrity of fuel sold at a gasoline retailer.

As for the TSSA, Ferguson admitted frustration: “They don’t really care,” he said, pointing out no one from the TSSA conducted an interview with him or asked for the fuel sample retrieved by his mechanic.

Since 1992, inspectors have documented a multitude of safety violations at the Neon station. One report indicated rain water was entering a fuel tank.

Motorist Olema Stephen, on his way to work, stopped to fill up at Neon but changed his mind after hearing more about other drivers’ experiences.

“I appreciate the heads up,” Stephen said. “It’s important for people to know about this. It’s not fair to the consumer.”